Prep School with Tommy Hilfiger
BY AMANDA WEINER
Inside the Prep World house
|Sketches from the Prep World campaign|
After celebrating 25 years of American fashion, Tommy Hilfiger has taken a moment to revisit his stylistic heritage—and to bring the spirit of his beloved East Hampton beach house to a worldwide audience. “We thought the preppy look we’ve always done was ready for an update,” says Hilfiger. And so the designer returned to the drawing board, enlisting author of The Official Preppy Handbook Lisa Birnbach to aid in curating his capsule collection, Prep World.
Complete with a pop-up house that will be making its way across the country and around the world this summer, Prep World redefines traditional notions of preppy to reflect the look’s global influence. “The Prep World collection is our signature style, updated for the times,” says Hilfiger. An American diaspora of sorts, the style championed by stateside country clubbers has spread worldwide and returned with a fresh perspective. “The collection reflects the global influence of preppy style with fundamental wardrobe building pieces that can be interpreted for any city or town in the world,” the designer explains.
For us, that translates to a collection that expands on the hallmarks of Hilfiger style: casual sophisticated classics redesigned with an international appeal. Slimmer silhouettes, innovative dye treatments and frayed hems are just a few of the unexpected details that distinguish the collection. But at its heart, the inspiration remains coastal American resort towns, specifically the laid-back, classic style of the East End. As Prep World makes its debut on the East Coast, Hilfiger teaches us a lesson or two on what it means to be truly preppy.
What is American preppy?
TOMMY HILFIGER: The preppy look really came from the East Coast in particular. It’s a mix of the summer looks of Nantucket, the Hamptons and Palm Beach paired with the prep school uniforms worn during the rest of the year in and around Boston, New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. Preppy is an untucked polo, a frayed chino hem, a suede boat shoe, an addiction to sportswear—all with an ease of dressing because it’s polished but never tries too hard.
Why did you decide to launch Prep World?
TH: We were talking about what prep means today and how we see a growing trend of prep going global. I wanted to create a collection that reflected this. Then we brought in Lisa [Birnbach], as the leading expert on preppy, to go to key cities around the world to research this concept and to curate the collection that I designed. She has a great way of interpreting preppy as a lifestyle, and that carries over into fashion.